Aug 10, 2021

Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript August 10

Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript August 10
RevBlogTranscriptsJen Psaki White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript August 10

August 10, 2021 press conference with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. She discussed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s handling of COVID and said a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is “not inevitable.” Read the transcript of the full news briefing here.

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Jen Psaki: (00:00)
… that’s for all of you at the top. President Biden promised to reach across the aisle and deliver results for families across the country. And today on the president’s 203rd day in office, in case all of you weren’t counting, 19 Republican senators joined the Democratic caucus to pass historic infrastructure legislation. The most important piece of this to the president is not the bipartisan piece, which of course he is pleased to see the opportunity to work with Democrats and Republicans, but that this will deliver huge benefits, millions of jobs to the American. Will people deliver clean drinking water and high speed internet to every household in the country. It will help us tackle the climate crisis by electrifying school buses, building electric vehicle chargers across the station, upgrade our power infrastructure to be resilient against natural disasters. And it will rebuild roads and bridges and modernize America’s airports, rail, and public transit systems.

Jen Psaki: (00:56)
Something that even our secretary of state talked about yesterday in terms of its benefits to our competitiveness around the world. And this legislation will create benefits in communities across the country for decades to come. So we are pleased to see the progress, looking forward to the next step. I also wanted to note for all of you that as a part of our ongoing efforts to boost vaccinations, meet people where they are with information about the vaccines, today, Dr. Fauci is doing five Q and A conversations on Instagram and TikTok with millennial mom influencers and gen Z influencers. Throughout the month of August, Dr. Fauci will do weekly conversations and questions with notable influencers that aim to reach specific audiences. We are looking to boost vaccination rates with alongside many of the other specific efforts we are already doing, including amplifying local black doctors across the country and local media interviews and partnerships with PTA organizations and doctors to incorporate vaccination information into sports, physical.

Jen Psaki: (01:55)
So continuing to take a range of steps. Finally, since we didn’t do a briefing yesterday, I wanted to take a quick second and address the IPCC from yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that came out. What the IPC told us is what President Biden has believed all along, climate change is an urgent threat that requires bold action. Since his first day in office, President Biden has taken unprecedented, bold and swift action to tackle the climate crisis. He rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement on day one, restoring leadership at home and on the world stage. The United States hosted a first ever US Global Climate Summit for 40 world leaders to encourage strong and ambitious commitments to reduce their emissions. We committed to bold ambitious climate goals, including reducing emissions from 2005 levels by 50 to 52% in 2030, producing 100% clean electricity by 2035 and reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.

Jen Psaki: (02:53)
And just last week, the president announced steps to drive American leadership forward and clean cars and trucks. Finally, it doesn’t stop there. Obviously, a step forward with the bipartisan infrastructure deal today, and his Build Back Better agenda will set America on the path towards clean energy, clean cars, clean buildings, and cleaner industry on a way that will grow our economy, create jobs and enhance America’s competitiveness. Darlene.

Darlene: (03:17)
Thank you. On the other news of the day, what is the president’s reaction to Governor Cuomo stepping down and did anyone in the White House reach out to the governor and sort of nudge him to leave office?

Jen Psaki: (03:30)
Well, first let me say the president made clear his views last week. And those stand. Our view is that this is a story about these courageous women who came forward, told their stories, shared their stories and an investigation overseen by the attorney general that of course concluded today in an outcome that the president called for just last week. I know a number of you have asked whether the president has talked to the attorney general since this report came out, the answer is no. Whether we had a heads up on this announcement today, the answer is no.

Speaker 1: (04:08)
[crosstalk 00:04:08]

Jen Psaki: (04:09)
I’m sorry. The governor. Yes.

Darlene: (04:12)
Can I finish?

Jen Psaki: (04:13)
Yes. Thank you for that clarification.

Darlene: (04:16)
Any plans for the president to now reach out to talk to the governor now that he has announced that he’s going to step down?

Jen Psaki: (04:22)
No plans that I’m aware of, no.

Darlene: (04:23)
I’ll take this, the White House that he chose today, infrastructure didn’t [crosstalk 00:04:27] announcement.

Jen Psaki: (04:29)
Well, Darlene, what I can assure you of is that the American people across the country who are commuting back and forth to work, driving their kids to camp, worried about whether their kids have access to clean drinking water, focused on whether schools are going to have the resources they need are most focused on the fact that 69 members of the Senate, 19 Republicans joined the Democratic caucus to take an important step forward. That’s my bet in terms of what people are talking about at home. Go ahead.

Speaker 2: (04:58)
[inaudible 00:04:58] on Afghanistan, we’re still few weeks away from the president’s initial deadline to withdraw all US troops from the country. We’re now seeing so many cities fall to the Taliban. Is the president frustrated by this at all?

Jen Psaki: (05:12)
Well, the president… There are difficult choices every commander in chief has to make on behalf of the American people. And President Biden was very clear when he delivered his speech in May announcing his decision that after 20 years at war it’s time for American troops to get home. I would also note and just harken back to some of the points he made when he made that speech that were the drivers for his decision. We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11th, to disrupt terrorist seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack the United States. We achieved those objectives some years ago, which [inaudible 00:05:48] judge the threat now against our homeland, which is his responsibility as commander in chief to focus on as being one where the threat emanates from outside of Afghanistan.

Jen Psaki: (05:56)
And president also at the time, just to go back to your original question, he asked for a clear assessment for review from his team on what the possible implications could be. He asked them not to sugarcoat that, he asked them to lay out specifically and clearly what the consequences could be. I’ll also note that we have provided a great deal and a range of assistance to the Afghan National Security Defense Forces, and also proposed a significant amount of funding in the FYI 2022 budget requests for $3.3 billion for the Afghan security forces. So he made a decision as commander in chief. Those are difficult decisions to make. He did it because, after 20 years at war, it’s time to bring our troops, our men and women home, and we will continue to be partners and supporters of their efforts on the ground.

Speaker 2: (06:50)
With that assistance, it seems [inaudible 00:06:51] we overestimated all the Afghans ability to hold off the Taliban though.

Jen Psaki: (06:55)
Well, ultimately there have been assessments by members of the intelligence community, members of our national security team that have been made public. And they’re the appropriate entities to of course make those assessments. But ultimately our view is that the Afghan National Security Defense Forces has the equipment, numbers and training to fight back, which will strengthen their position at the negotiating table. We believe there’s a political process. That’s the only process that will successfully bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Speaker 2: (07:24)
One more on the vaccine, sorry. Secretary Austin says that he will make the request for the president to approve a waiver for the vaccine to be mandatory in the military and delivered in mid September unless the FDA approves the vaccine before that. But given that the consensus is that the vaccines are safe and effective, why not move forward with that waiver right away?

Jen Psaki: (07:49)
Well, one, the president’s secretary agree and they have agreed that making sure our military is safe and prepared is of utmost importance. And given the size and scale and geographic dispersal of the Department of Defense’s workforce, it was determined that DOD would need some time to develop an implementation plan. That’s exactly what we’re talking about with the September 15th timeline. To make sure it’s most feasible for fully vaccinating their personnel. There are a range of steps that are components of an implementation plan. Obviously, if the Delta variant becomes worse and we need to move things forward, we have that option. If FDA, which we don’t control their timeline as you all well know, is not approve of vaccine by then, that timeline stands. But this was a timeline put in place so we would have the necessary resources and available time to make this happen with the diverse military personnel around the world. Go ahead.

Speaker 3: (08:47)
I know the president isn’t weighing in on legislative sequencing at this point in time, but there’s a letter sent by for a group of House Democratic moderates basically calling on Speaker Pelosi to take up the infrastructure bill now saying it doesn’t have time for a delay. What is the president’s message to those moderates?

Speaker 3: (09:03)
… doesn’t have time for delay. What is the president’s message to those moderates, not regarding sequencing, but who are right now feel like this needs to move immediately?

Jen Psaki: (09:09)
His message is that he remains committed to passing each of these pieces of legislation on dual tracks. That he is going to work on lockstep with speaker Pelosi, just as we have worked in lockstep with leader Schumer successfully over the last several weeks and months to get this done, and he is confident in the leadership, the strategic approach of speaker Pelosi, and looks forward to being her partner in the weeks ahead.

Speaker 3: (09:33)
And then one more, [inaudible 00:09:36] has made very clear over the course of the last couple of weeks that he doesn’t believe any republicans will vote for a debt ceiling increase. Does the president believe he’s bluffing on that?

Jen Psaki: (09:44)
Well, I think for those of you who have followed this quite closely, let me just … For those of you have not followed this quite closely, let me actually provide you some additional details of context, and then I’ll come back to your good question. Congress have raised or suspended the debt limit approximately 80 times. In fact, congress has raised the debt limit more times under republican presidents than under democratic presidents. The republican led congress raised the debt limit three times on a bipartisan basis during the prior administration, and 98% of the debt, subject to this limit, this limit we’re talking about right now, accrued before President Biden took office, it’s a shared responsibility. I’d also note that during the Trump years, former majority leader McConnell himself said that failing to raise the debt ceiling was unacceptable, because it would cause unforced harm to our economy and kill jobs. So, our view is that congress should move forward, as they have multiple times, 80 times in the past, three times during the Trump administration, to raise the debt limit.

Jen Psaki: (10:44)
Go ahead.

Peter: (10:45)
I want to ask you about infrastructure in a second. So, on the news on COVID and Delta right now, governor DeSantis in Florida, as you know, is now threatening to withhold salaries of school board members and superintendents in districts who do not comply with his order outlawing mask mandates at schools. What’s the White House’s take on that?

Jen Psaki: (11:01)
Well, I do want to call out the courage and the boldness of a number of leaders in Florida, including in Miami Dade county. People who are stepping up to do the right thing, to protect students and keep schools safe and open. We are continuing to look for ways, to go back to your question Peter, for the US government to support districts and schools as they try to follow the science, do the right thing, and save lives. I would not what is publicly available and knowable is that the American Rescue Plan funds that were distributed to Florida to provide assistance to schools have not yet been distributed from the state level. So, the question is, why not? And those can be used to cover expenses that come up in this period of time. They’re federal funds, and they’re under federal discretion. So, they just need to be distributed to these schools. We’re looking into what’s possible.

Peter: (11:54)
So, in simple terms, what does the White House say directly to governor DeSantis about this threatened punishment?

Jen Psaki: (12:01)
Well, we would say what we have said from the beginning, Peter, which is that if you’re not interested in following the public health guidelines to protect the lives of people in your state, to give parents some comfort as they’re sending their kids to school, schools are opening in Florida this week I know, in many parts of Florida, then get out of the way and let public officials, let local officials do their job to keep students safe. This is serious, and we’re talking about people’s lives, and we know based on public health guidelines that even though kids under a certain age are not yet eligible, masks can have a huge impact.

Speaker 4: (12:41)
Couple followups on the [inaudible 00:12:41] news that just happened. We saw the president arrive only moments before the announcement. Did the president watch the announcement, or who informed him?

Jen Psaki: (12:46)
The president was meeting with members of his senior team, talking about the vote in the senate today and preparing to deliver remarks. So, I don’t have any information on who made him specifically aware.

Speaker 4: (12:59)
Has he spoken to the soon to be governor, Kathy Hochul yet?

Jen Psaki: (13:03)
Not yet.

Speaker 4: (13:03)
And what message does the White House have, given that this is also a historic day, the first female governor of the state of New York?

Jen Psaki: (13:10)
Well, certainly we look forward to working with her and with a range of New York officials, and continuing to deliver relief to the people of New York, as we work to fight the pandemic, put people back to work, and show people government can work for them.

Speaker 4: (13:24)
Is 14 days soon enough for him to depart?

Jen Psaki: (13:26)
I think I’m going to leave our comments at what we’ve made. Go ahead.

Speaker 5: (13:29)
Thanks Jen. First about immigration, The Washington Post’s editorial board wrote [inaudible 00:13:35] everything happening at the border, that the administration has driven a policy whose incoherence has yielded pressure at the border that may cost democrats control of one or both houses of congress. Is there any plan to try to do something different down there?

Jen Psaki: (13:48)
Well, let me give you an overview, a short overview I promise, of some of the steps that we’re taking, some of them that have been newly implemented over the last week or two, and I know there’s been a lot of news going on. So, number one is steps we are continuing to take under Title 42. Lateral flights, which is a newer step that we have started to take, which is moving migrants from one part of the border to another, where there might be more processing capability or facility capacity to expel migrants under Title 42. There are some higher traffic areas, that is one step we just started taking recently. We’ve also started initiating, as of last week, as of last Friday, expulsion flights into Mexico.

Jen Psaki: (14:31)
The department of homeland security has started transferring certain families expelled under Title 42 by plane to the interior of Mexico. This is in order to attempt to cut down on recidivism and further spread of the Delta variant. Finally, the last piece that we’ve started implementing more recently is expedited removal, with the exception of unaccompanied minors, as you will know. It’s currently US policy to expel families and individuals under Title 42 when possible, however under a variety of reasons that is not always possible. And that’s why expediential removal comes in. It allows an emigration official, generally a CPB official, to determine if a migrant is seeking protection or has an intent of applying for asylum. If they do, of course they would go through the process. If they do not, this would allow for removal on a more rapid basis.

Speaker 5: (15:20)
Thank you. And then with the votes in congress and the next steps. A trillion for the infrastructure, 3.5 trillion for the rent conciliation. Is anybody here concerned that all of this government spending could lead to inflation?

Jen Psaki: (15:34)
Well, as you know, we take inflation incredibly seriously. It’s of course under the purview of the federal reserve. I would note that when we’re talking about the budget reconciliation process, there are payfors put forward including asking corporations and the highest, wealthiest individuals to pay a bit more. Something broad swaths, the vast majority of the American public supports. It’s also in our interest to help pay for these vital investments, but I would note we take it seriously, we watch it closely. The federal reserve, who has the purview has predicted or put out a forecast that we expect it to go up a bit this year. We’ve long anticipated that, but to come back down to normal levels next year, and those are the projections we follow.

Speaker 5: (16:14)
And last one, you talk about these vital investments in the infrastructure package. If it is so vital, then why is the president okay waiting for the house to take it up until reconciliation is up? Why not just ask speaker Pelosi, we need to do this, these bridges are crumbling, people need clean drinking water now?

Jen Psaki: (16:33)
Well, these are vital because they are long overdue, and it’s important to modernize our infrastructure and make sure kids have access to clean drinking water. It’s also designed as the plan that would be implemented over the course of eight years. It wouldn’t be a huge injection immediately into the economy, to go back to your prior question, and we are confidence and comfortable with the strategic approach of speaker Pelosi. The president of course looks forward to signing each of these pieces of legislation into law. Go ahead, Ed.

Ed: (17:00)
A few clean up items on all the good questions already raised.

Jen Psaki: (17:02)

Ed: (17:03)
Can you recall, or can you help us run down the last time the president would have ever talked to Kathy Hochul? I realize you may not know that right now, but-

Jen Psaki: (17:10)
Sure, I’m happy to check and we can get that back to all of you as well.

Ed: (17:14)
Given that they share a lot of similarities in terms of their politics and whatnot, undoubtedly that happened at some point. On the DeSantis Florida situation, you mentioned the relief money that’s heading to Florida. Are you guys aware of any mechanism you could use to withhold federal funds from Florida, if the governor keeps up this kind of activity?

Jen Psaki: (17:33)
I don’t have any announcements to preview today. Obviously we don’t want to hurt the people of Florida. We want the people of Florida to continue doing what they’ve done, which is to go out and get vaccinated, make sure they’re protecting themselves and their neighbors and loved ones. What I was really speaking to at that point is the schools being under the threat and their administrators of not getting pay, and certainly we’re looking into that and how we could help address that.

Ed: (17:59)
Well, you are looking into a workaround, if need be, if the governor withholds funds?

Ed: (18:03)
You are looking into a workaround if need be if the governor witholds.

Jen Psaki: (18:04)
Well, again, it’s knowable that the American Rescue Plan school funds have not been distributed to across the state, to all the schools that would be eligible, but we’re continuing to look into what our options are to help protect and help support these teachers and administrators who are taking steps to protect the people in their communities.

Ed: (18:25)
Two other quick ones. Now that things are shifting to reconciliation, how does the White House sort of congressional outreach strategy change if at all? You’ve got a lot of meetings over here. I mean, I realize they’re on recess, but you had a lot of meetings over here with Republicans back in the day, a few weeks and months ago. What is the president, vice president, the legislative team doing now to ensure that all 50 Democratic senators and eventually all members of the House are on board with this?

Jen Psaki: (18:53)
Well, I probably will have an updated number at some point, but as of late last week, we had done about 375 engagements on just the reconciliation package with member offices and members. So that will of course increase. And those numbers will continue to grow. And the president will… Of course, members are in their home districts. They’re on recess, but he will be picking up the phone as he did quite a bit over the weekend to have conversations with members, address any concerns or questions they have, and work to get this piece of legislation, also both pieces, I should say, across the finish line. And if it will help move things forward to bring people to the Oval Office, I’m sure he’ll do that when people return in September as well.

Ed: (19:34)
And ahead of Thursdays census data release, curious what the White House and your party might be able to do to stop Republican state legislatures from drawing or redrawing lines in ways that you guys were worried about. You obviously have the presidential bully pulpit. You currently have the congressional majority, but you don’t control a lot of the state houses where most of these lines are going to be redrawn. So how is the White House, the Democratic party thinking about despite the COVID?

Jen Psaki: (19:59)
You are right, the census will be releasing data many states for redistricting on Thursday. So two days from now. I will say that the career experts at the census bureau, who did this data have taken the time needed to produce the high quality statistics that the public expects and deserves. We obviously haven’t seen the data they are releasing. So we aren’t going to weigh in further at this point in time. Certainly, the president has also at the same time express concerned about gerrymandering and about steps taken that reduce our democracy or democratic values across the country. But I expect we’ll have more to say when the data comes out on Thursday. Go ahead.

Speaker 6: (20:41)
So there was a conversation yesterday with the vice president and the president of Mexico in which she promised additional doses. Today, the Mexican foreign minister said that would be 8.5 million doses. Can you confirm those numbers and will those be loans of doses or will they be donated? And then…

Jen Psaki: (21:01)
Sure, I have of course seen that reporting. We don’t have anything that’s been finalized quite yet. We do intend to provide more doses, donate more doses to Mexico I believe. I’ll double check that for you, but we don’t have anything confirmed at this point in time in terms of the numbers or the timeline on that decision.

Speaker 6: (21:18)
And then tomorrow we’ll see the inflation data. And then we’ve just talked a little bit about inflation. Are you concerned at all about what we’re seeing? So it’s been a sustained increase in used car prices has been one of the big drivers. Is there any work being done within the administration to sort of look at what’s happening in those markets and how that pricing is continuing? What are the factors that are behind the bump in inflation?

Jen Psaki: (21:46)
One, of course, we look very closely at the factors that impact a range of industries. And we’ve talked in the past as these numbers have come out, which the data that will come out tomorrow about how a percentage of the impact is from the used car industry. And there are a range of factors at play there and including as supply chain issues and challenges that are related, but we also have been addressing through a separate channel through our supply chain efforts, our work with a range of companies and our work with our global partners. I’d also note that we’ve seen impacts because of the Delta variant on parts of the world and markets, where there are some materials coming from, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so important to provide vaccines to the global community, to help address that and get the workforce back working again. So we look at every component that might impact prices, that might impact the car industry, but prices that impact the American people most importantly and certain the used car industry continues to be one of the big driving factors. We’ll see what the data says tomorrow.

Speaker 6: (22:51)
Are you interested in meeting with the automotive industry and with the dealers about the financing schemes that they’ve got going as well? Financing has been stretched over a longer period so that people are paying more over a longer period of time for both new and used vehicles. Is there some kind of intervention that’s needed to ensure that dealers are not making sort of excessive profits, if you will, on these current supply chain problems.

Jen Psaki: (23:21)
Sure. I know that our supply chain team is in touch with auto industry executives, with dealers, as is our economic team, and they have been having discussions. I can see if there’s more of an update to provide to you as well. Go ahead.

Speaker 7: (23:35)
Thank you. I have two areas of questioning. One is, can you give us a sense of whether the president is disappointed by the Afghan military performance, just given the amount of time and money that taxpayer funds went to training the forces?

Jen Psaki: (23:59)
Well, I don’t think we have the luxury of just feeling disappointed. Our view and the president’s view is that now is the time for them to utilize the training, the assistance, the security guidance that they have been provided over the last two decades. And they will continue to be provided and unite as Afghan leaders, with both the military and leaders who are leading the country to push back against the Taliban. That’s our view that president continues to believe that it is not inevitable that the Taliban takes over Cabo or the country and that they need to show political will at this point to push back. And obviously, there’s a political process that we continue to support.

Speaker 7: (24:45)
Should there be a look at whether the right training was provided or whether the funds were used well? Just so much time and money went into this effort and it seems that these cities are falling quite quickly. Will there be a reassessment, and then the next time there’ll be a different type of training?

Jen Psaki: (25:03)
I certainly would point you to DOD for any assessment along those lines, but I think there’s no question that over the course of two decades, the amount to your point of training, of assistance, of security equipment that has been provided is extensive. And we are continuing to propose additional assistance in the form of $1 billion to ensure the Afghan air force and special mission wing have the capabilities and maintenance to support ongoing combat and operations, $1 billion to purchase and deliver key supplies for Afghan forces, $700 million to fund continued payment of salaries for Afghan soldiers. It is important to us and it is a fundamental value to continue to be partners and support their effort, but ultimately it is up to the Afghans to determine what their future looks like.

Speaker 7: (25:46)
And I just wanted to follow up on questions by my colleagues, Peter Alexander and [inaudible 00:25:52] on COVID and Florida in particular. When you were talking about federal funds being used in some way to affect an outcome with the state school districts, can you describe whether you’re talking about sort of paying these funds directly to the school districts, or you’re talking about withholding funds? Like what is sort of the flow of funding and what is the amount that we’re talking about?

Jen Psaki: (26:16)
Sure. I don’t have it in front of me how much Florida was allocated through the American Rescue Plan. I’m sure we can get you that number, but in the American Rescue Plan allocation or in the guidelines for parameters, for how that money could be spent, certainly paying for salaries is a part of that, or it could be a part of that and could cover those needs for these officials. And now that money would have to be distributed, but the Department of Education is looking at options. I’m not making a threat of withholding. Certainly, we don’t want to hurt the people of Florida, but we’re looking at a range of options to support the public health officials, the leader, the teachers, and officials who are trying to protect students and their communities.

Speaker 7: (26:59)
Is this limited to Florida, or are there other states and school districts where there are similar-

Speaker 8: (27:03)
… to Florida, or are there other states and school districts where there are similar dynamics at play?

Jen Psaki: (27:05)
I’m sure we can check on where allocation has been distributed or not. Obviously, it’s only a handful of states that are putting in place measures that make it more difficult for education leaders, leaders in the education field, to protect students and their communities. So it doesn’t apply necessarily nationally because of that, fortunately, but I’m sure we can look at the data state to state. Go ahead.

Speaker 9: (27:28)
Quick question following up on the border. There was a filing yesterday in the Flores settlement that described quote “shockingly deplorable conditions.” This is at emergency shelters at two facilities in Texas. I do realize one of them is under investigation in Fort Bliss, but given that there’s another one in, I believe it’s Pecos, Texas, the administration’s strategy was framed early on to move kids out into HHS facilities into these various facilities that are emergency shelters. That’s what we were told over and over again when we saw those high numbers in CBP facilities. So given that these very shelters, the ones that the administration wanted to move kids into out of CBP facilities, are now being described as shockingly deplorable, what’s now the strategy to both improve conditions, but also move those minors out of CBP facilities at a faster rate?

Jen Psaki: (28:22)
Well, that’s always our objective. Both of those is always our objective, and the mission of HHS is to safely care for unaccompanied children until they can be unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor. We want to do that as quickly as possible. We also don’t want to put kids in the hands of people who are not vetted, so there is a balance there. I will say that we are continuously working to improve the conditions and services required to safely care for children. So currently, I know we’ve talked about one of these facilities and the IG investigation, which we’ve been supporting and we have been participating in, and a number of the conditions have been improved at that facility.

Jen Psaki: (28:58)
In the Pecos site, it has an onsite clinic with various medical services, including pediatricians, nurses, mental health professionals, physician assistants, is compliant with the required ratio of medical and clinical staff to unaccompanied children. The children receive educational and recreational activities, including reading, art, indoor and outdoor games, journaling and dance, and children at Pecos also have access to provided laundry service, calls to homes, appointments with legal and counseling. And currently, the children at the intake site at Pecos meet with a case manager weekly. We are continuing to assess and make sure children are treated humanely, treated with care, and kept safe until we can connect them with their families or a vetted individual to care for them further.

Speaker 9: (29:45)
Given all of that, is the administration satisfied with conditions specifically at Pecos, or would it support a similar investigation that’s going on into Fort Bliss?

Jen Psaki: (29:54)
Well, that would be up to the inspector general. Again, we remain committed to continuing to improve conditions where there are any concerns arise, and we will continue to do that at this site and any other where they arise.

Speaker 9: (30:08)
Just one more. Why haven’t we seen a supplemental request at this point? I mean, capacity has been an issue now for what, six months at the border? Is the administration considering that at this point, and do you still identify capacity as an issue?

Jen Psaki: (30:23)
Well, I think capacity issues we’ve made huge improvements on.

Speaker 9: (30:29)
[crosstalk 00:30:29].

Jen Psaki: (30:29)
Correct. I know what you’re saying. We’ve made huge improvements, and when we’ve had this conversation a couple of months ago, the conditions were different. I mean, people were in the border patrol facilities for far too long. They were in these HHS facilities longer than we wanted them to be in. I think if we assessed that additional funding would help us expedite any aspect of the process, we would request those, but we also have some flexibility in the budget to make sure we have the resources needed.

Speaker 10: (30:57)
[crosstalk 00:30:57].

Jen Psaki: (30:57)
Okay, all right. Why don’t you go to Eugene, and then I’ll go to somebody in the back?

Speaker 2: (31:00)
Back on inflation, what does the administration have to say to people who, for example, aren’t getting raises or essentially making less than they did two years-

Jen Psaki: (31:08)
Inflation, you said? Okay.

Speaker 2: (31:09)
Yeah. Making less than they did two years ago, because it’s really hard for Americans to hear, “Focus on these long-term investments. This is going to be temporary,” when they’re dealing with those issues right this second.

Jen Psaki: (31:20)
Well, I would first say that one of the steps that we’ve taken as an administration is to provide a range of assistance to the American people, whether it is in the form of $1,400 checks or the form of the child tax credit that the president’s advocated for a multi-year extension of, or whether it’s the form of unemployment benefits that people will continue to receive for the coming weeks. We understand this is a period of time as the economy turns back on, as we’re recovering from a pandemic and these dual crises are related where people needed extra assistance, so we did exactly that.

Jen Psaki: (31:56)
We also knew that as the economy turned back on, there would be a range of impacts. One is prices going back to pre-pandemic levels in some industries. One is we’re seeing of course the impact as [Andrea 00:32:10] was asking about, of the supply chain shortages that have impacted some industries as well, the used car industry and others, and we’re working to address each of these components and challenges in the economy as we see it. It’s also important to note though, because we rely on the Federal Reserve for projections, that they are projecting to come back to normal levels next year, and this is still foreseen as a transitory impact on prices. I’m just going to go to one in the way back. Okay, why don’t you go ahead?

Speaker 11: (32:39)
Two questions.

Jen Psaki: (32:40)

Speaker 11: (32:40)
First, what’s the White House guidance now on outdoor events? We just had Lollapalooza in Chicago. There’ll be others. So what should people do? Should they be masking in outdoor events? Is there a sort of a capacity past which people should mask outdoors? And second, I just want to be clear. Are you encouraging school districts in Florida and Texas specifically to resist the governors in those states and impose mask mandates?

Jen Psaki: (33:13)
Well, we’re certainly encouraging any officials and local leaders to follow public health guidelines to save lives. On the first step, it’s not White House guidance, it’s CDC guidance. That has not changed, and they’ve put out pretty clear, detailed explanation on that, so I’d point you to them. All right, thanks, everyone.

Speaker 11: (33:33)
Thanks, Jen.

Speaker 10: (33:33)
Thank you.

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